Anyway, it got me thinking about what I’d do were I to find myself thigh deep in sludgy water. Obviously the inconvenience would be immense – I hate the thought of DIY projects and having my home overrun with workmen. The plus side of my aversion to home improvements though means that even a full blown earthquake couldn’t do that much aesthetic damage to my house. I like where I live but I don’t feel particularly tied to it. If the worst came to the worst, I couldn’t give a flying fig if the bank repossessed it.
As for personal treasures, after much contemplation, I can only conclude that I don’t possess any. For most people photographs are their biggest treasure but, I have to confess, I have hardly any. As a family we never really amassed any which is a shame but, even as an adult, I can’t remember the last time I took a photograph. Like most people, I have a camera on my phone which I have used exactly once to take a ‘selfie’, for which I was roundly ridiculed due to my uncanny resemblance to a serial killer. I’ve never been photogenic, as a child when we had photographs taken at school, my mum would always buy them but somehow they would be mysteriously squirreled away somewhere. My features would invariably contort into the intense, mad eyed serial killer look whilst my photogenic sister always managed to work the sweet, angelic look.
As for sentimental trinkets, I don’t have any of those either. Childhood toys or school mementos are long gone. My mother is a ruthless minimalist and any clumsy attempts at art or key rings made in metal work would be surreptitiously binned the moment my back was turned. I like to think that I’m a fellow minimalist but my house is too messy and overcrowded for that. The real reason I have amassed no real treasures to speak of is more to do with the fact that I spent a lot of years moving around and, if you relocate to another city you tend to whittle your possessions down to essentials. That is unless you want the expense of a full blown move complete with a man with a van and all that malarkey. Since then I’ve settled in one place but I fear my pack rat mentality is born more out of slovenliness than sentimentality.
Books are piled everywhere in my house, I have my very own leaning tower of Pisa next to my bed. The fact is though, much as I love books, I don’t hoard them. All of the books threatening to one day topple over and kill me in my sleep are waiting to be read. It’s always been my policy when I’ve read a book to pass it on. I think there is something quite wonderful about the idea of a book being enjoyed until it is tatty and falling apart. As a child, I loved being the beneficiary of beloved books that had already been passed around my eight aunts. Jamaica Inn, Little Women, Jane Eyre, Black Beauty, they all came my way with chocolate flavoured smudges all over them and I could retrace the reading history from bent over corners used to mark places.
I don’t have any expensive gadgets; I don’t even have a flat screened TV. My telly is so old I miss anything that is on the periphery of the screen and often have to guess at names or subtitles. My friends joke that if a burglar broke into my house they would have to leave empty handed – I may as well just leave the door open. I don’t wear jewellery other than the cheap cosmetic kind that has a tendency to make your earlobes throb after a couple of hours. I like clothes and buy a lot but they are all worn and I don’t hoard. I like the policy of if you don’t wear it donate it to a charity shop so that somebody else can get some wear out of it. As the saying goes – if you haven’t worn it in two years then it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever wear it again so pass it on.
I don’t wish to minimise the losses suffered by people whose homes have been flooded but, it seems to me, the downside of treasured possessions is that they can be lost. I’ve always secretly envied people who have photographs chronicling their lives or school reports dating back to 1972 but, maybe it’s better after all, to simply let it all go. When my dad died, it really bothered me that I didn’t really have anything of his that was tangible to hold onto. What I do have though is the certainty that he loved me dearly and a wealth of memories that never fail to bring a smile to my face when I call them to mind. Okay so I’ll never be able to get them out to show people but they are safely tucked away in my heart and there’s nothing, fires, floods and earthquakes included, that they can’t withstand.